Nebraska National Forest

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Nebraska National Forest
Nebraska National Forest, Bessey Ranger District, no. 5.jpg
Map showing the location of Nebraska National Forest
Map showing the location of Nebraska National Forest
Location Nebraska, U.S.
Nearest city Chadron, NE (Pine Ridge unit)
Coordinates 42°44′46″N 102°54′7″W / 42.74611°N 102.90194°W / 42.74611; -102.90194Coordinates: 42°44′46″N 102°54′7″W / 42.74611°N 102.90194°W / 42.74611; -102.90194
Area 141,864 acres (574.10 km2)[1]
Established July 1, 1908[2]
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Website Nebraska National Forest

The Nebraska National Forest is a United States National Forest in the U.S. state of Nebraska. The total area of the national forest is 141,864 acres, or 222 sq miles (574 km2).

The national forest includes two ranger districts. The 90,000-acre (364 km2) Bessey Ranger District is in the Sandhills of central Nebraska. Encompassing about 63.9% of the forest's total area, it lies in parts of Thomas and Blaine counties. It was established in 1902 by Charles E. Bessey because he believed the area to have once had a natural forest and as an experiment to see if forests could be recreated in treeless areas of the Great Plains for use as a national timber reserve. This effort resulted in a 20,000-acre (80.9 km2) forest, the largest human-planted forest in the United States. Today the forest's nursery supplies 2.5 to 3 million seedlings per year. The Bessey Nursery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 52,000 acres (210 km2) Pine Ridge Ranger District is in the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska. It contains about 36.1% of the forest's total area, and it lies in part of Dawes and Sioux counties. The native ponderosa forests were added to the National Forest system in the 1950s. The Soldier Creek Wilderness, a federally designated wilderness area, is in the forest.

In descending order of land, the forest lies in parts of Thomas, Dawes, Blaine, and Sioux counties. It is managed by the Forest Service together with Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest and the Buffalo Gap, Fort Pierre, and Oglala National Grasslands from common offices in Chadron, Nebraska. There is a local ranger district office in Halsey.


Nebraska National Forest was established on November 15, 1907 by the consolidation of three smaller forests: Dismal River, Niobrara and North Platte National Forests.[3] At one point it was the largest man-made forest in the world, but has been surpassed by a forest in China.[4] The urban forest of Johannesburg, South Africa is often cited as the largest man-made forest, but is only the largest urban forest.[5]


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